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Why don’t all children have the food they need?

Some children made the link between not having enough money and using food banks:

“Some people don’t have enough money to buy food and some people have to go to food banks and some people can’t go to the food bank because their families are too ill.”

Children were very perceptive about the role of food banks:

“If they went there then they could have more food. They could go there every single day for breakfast, and then they could use their money on other things.”

“I got to pack some food for [someone at the food bank], there were tins of dog food and there was healthy food. And it depends on how big the family is. I gave him chewing gum, that is the best thing, and I gave him cereal, milk, water, pasta, already cooked in a container, I gave him so many things. You had to get this ticket first. I thought it was just going to be not good food.”

[The family having a tough time with money] “wouldn’t want to spend tons of money on stuff they don’t necessarily need. In Sainsbury’s and Tesco they normally put up the prices a little bit. You get bananas for like 50p but in a fruit shop it might be 10p. So they go to the fruit shop or they might go to the food bank.”

Many focused on the need for charitable responses to food insecurity that are also accessible:

“Saying we want you to go to a food bank, helping you if you need to travel a lot, and asking if you have any healthy food.”

“Well, I think we should make a little charity thing and then people can help children in poverty get, it’s sort of like a food bank thing, but with food and clothes and water and everything that someone would need. You could maybe encourage people to help the charity and get more things for it.”

“They can sometimes buy food and deliver it to people.”

Children came up with various solutions to issues around food insecurity in the home and in the community. Children only sometimes instigated discussion of food banks as an option for a family in financial difficulty. Their awareness and understanding of the role of food banks as a potential coping mechanism for a family in difficulty demonstrates the speed at which food banks have become institutionalised in Scotland. Not all children felt that food banks were a fair solution. One child expressed this as,

“Living is more important than surviving.”

A number of children identified food insecurity as a global problem:

“Some people in other countries, in hot countries, don’t have enough food.”

One child identified children in Syria as particularly vulnerable:

“People in Syria, because they’ve been bombed and all the shops have been bombed, so they can’t get any food.”

Children were asked how the family members would feel if one of the parents had lost their job and, as a consequence, ‘hasn’t been buying the same food, and sometimes they don’t get much to eat unless they’re at school’.

“They feel worried about their children.”

“They’re worried because if there’s not enough food their bones will show and they will die!”

“Frustrated because they don’t have enough money to buy proper food.”

“Angry that they lost their jobs and angry at themselves.”

“They’d really want their children to grow big and strong so they can get jobs and they will have money, instead of them being like they are right now.”

“Stressed out.”

“They would feel hopeless, like they might starve and die, and then their children will be very sad.”

How might children feel?

“They feel upset that their parents are stressed so they feel stressed.”

“A bit worried, because they don’t know what’s going to happen and their parents are a bit sad.”

“That maybe they can do something!”

“Scared, because they won’t have a lot of food and they’ll starve.”

“Maybe they’d feel confused.”

“They’ll be sad.”

“They’ll feel poor.”